New orchestra/rapper pairing: Nelly + orchestras in Columbus and Pittsburgh

Posted on: July 15, 2016

“In a week of pain and loss, Midwest rapper Nelly delivered a much-needed spectacle” with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra on July 9, reports Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib at on Wednesday (7/13).  “Never, in the history of the [CSO’s Picnic with the Pops] series, has a rapper stood in front of that accomplished orchestra, leading them through songs that are, to say the least, outside of their natural range…. It makes sense for that rapper to be Nelly, who built a career off of his ear for hooks and melody. The ‘NellyxColumbus Orchestra’ show went from an experiment to an actual, fleshed-out experience…. I needed to believe that this unlikely union could be pulled off…. As the night drew to a close … Nelly and the orchestra … closed with a sparse version of ‘Dilemma.’ It was mostly strings and backup singers, and a crowd swaying…. In these moments, they are the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen.” Nelly also performed on July 14 with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. For more about the trend of orchestras performing with rappers, read the summer issue of Symphony magazine.

Posted July 15, 2016

In photo: The rapper Nelly performs with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall on Thursday, July 14.